A Long Way Back



In today’s Asheville Citizen Times, there was an article on the front page about Jordan Allen who sustained a TBI two years ago. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110814/NEWS/308140041/Asheville-High-student-continues-recover-two-years-after-accident . The picture above is of Jordan and his mother, Tracee Workman. Workman is quoted as saying “Jordan was supposed to go to a step-down facility after CarePartners….But Workman says Jordan fell in a gray area – between someone with mental illness and someone with development problems. She says Jordan’s insurance company, CoreSource, didn’t want to pay because it wasn’t a medical necessity.” He still has a long way to go and he needs to more rehab.

I was in a similar situation and my insurance company said the same thing. I remember thinking, “What does that mean? I can’t organize my thoughts or remember things but treatment isn’t medically necessary?” My husband and I were furious but Michael looked into all options available to me. At the time I qualified for a state program that paid for me to have more rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I needed this rehab and I’m glad I qualified.

When I moved here to North Carolina, I was amazed to discover that brain injury falls in the same area as mental illnesses and developmental disabilities in the state system. Since my brain injury occurred when I was an adult, the services were much different for me. There isn’t enough services for high school students in this state.

After reading this article, memories of my own injury almost 15 years ago came flooding back. My insurance company did pay for a stepped down facility after leaving the hospital. However, at one point a therapist listed me as “non-compliant.” This meant the therapist thought I wasn’t following his or her directions. I remember spending time playing games like hangman on a computer program thinking it was a waste of time. I wanted to get back to work, not spend hours playing computer games.

Now I can see how that game probably helped my word-finding skills. People with brain injury often have difficulty thinking of a word. One needs to practice having conversations and playing games like hangman in order to recover some of these skills. I may have been more open to playing the game if someone would have taken the time to explain to me why I was doing it.

On second thought, maybe not. Awareness is a huge issue for brain injury survivors. A person just isn’t aware of one’s limitations and sometimes will try to do dangerous things. I volunteered at a brain injury facility in Atlanta and was talking to a recently injured man who told me about his visit home. He used to climb trees for his job but he told me he had decided not to climb any when he was home this time, maybe later. This from a man who used a wheelchair some of the time! He still thought he could do it.

I was impressed with Tracee Workman’s determination to help her son. A brain injury survivor cannot do it alone. My husband, Michael, really battled insurance companies and medical personnel for me and for this, I am grateful. I plan to try and contact Jordan and Tracee this week. They need all the support they can get.

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